San Diego City Council Votes to End… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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San Diego City Council Votes to End Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products, Delivering Huge Win for Kids and Blow Against Big Tobacco

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
April 25, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The San Diego City Council took bold action today to protect kids from tobacco addiction, save lives and advance health equity by voting to end the sale of flavored tobacco products – including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The Council’s action will help prevent the tobacco industry from addicting a new generation of kids. We look forward to Mayor Todd Gloria signing the ordinance into law promptly upon its final passage.

We applaud Council Members Marni von Wilpert and Jennifer Campbell for their leadership in protecting the health of San Diego’s kids and promoting health equity. The Council’s action will crack down on the tobacco industry’s most pernicious tactic for luring and addicting kids: the marketing of flavored products. And it will help end the industry’s predatory targeting of Black communities with menthol cigarettes, which has had a devastating toll on Black lives and health and is a major cause of health disparities. A final pro forma vote is expected May 9. Once enacted, the law will make San Diego the largest city in the country to end the sale of menthol cigarettes. 

Flavored products have fueled the current epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. Nationally, over 2 million kids use e-cigarettes, with a growing percentage of them using e-cigarettes frequently or daily – a sure sign of addiction. And 85% use flavored products.

Flavored products have also long been a favorite tobacco industry strategy for targeting kids, Black Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community and other communities. Half of all kids who ever try smoking start with menthol cigarettes. The evidence shows that menthol makes it easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. Because of the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing, 85% of Black smokers now smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to less than 10% in the 1950s. Menthol cigarettes are a major reason why tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death among Black Americans – claiming 45,000 Black lives every year – and why Black Americans have a harder time quitting smoking and are more likely to die from tobacco-related diseases like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.

In addition, cheap, flavored cigars – sold in hundreds of flavors like cherry dynamite, tropical twist and chocolate – have flooded the market in recent years and fueled the popularity of these products with kids. The 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that cigars are the second most popular tobacco product (after e-cigarettes) among all high school students and are especially popular among Black high school students.

We have it within our reach to create the first tobacco-free generation, but only if policymakers across the country take strong action to finish the job and stop tobacco companies from addicting a new generation with flavored products.